Reflections on Eroticon 2018

It’s been a week since I was standing up in front of a room full of friendly people in Camden, London, giving a talk about the history of the bra. This time it wasn’t a fashion conference though, as I was back at Eroticon, the conference for sex bloggers, erotica writers and other erotic creatives. If you’re unfamiliar with the event, here’s the background info from their site:

Founded by Ruby Kiddell in 2012 to give Erotic Writers and Bloggers the tools to hone their craft in a collaborative environment, Eroticon has become an essential resource for sex writers around the world. 2012 also saw the launch of the Eroticon conference, the first sex writers conference in the UK and in 2013 saw EroticonUSA take America by storm.

After 5 years of creating and developing Eroticon, Ruby Kiddell moved onto other projects. As of June 2016, Eroticon is now run and managed by Molly Moore, Michael Knight and Girl on the Net. The new team is dedicated to taking the site and the conference forward into the future, building on the firm foundation that Ruby left behind. Working with the whole adult creative community to bring you fresh, inspiring and informative content from a wide variety of industry professionals and educators.

I was on a panel at the first Eroticon conference, back in 2012, and gave a talk on polyamory with Amanda in 2013 but, as my blog has evolved since then and I rarely write about sex any more, I haven’t been back to the conference. When Molly first asked me if I’d be interested in speaking about my bra history research at Eroticon 2018, I have to admit that I was surprised. After all, although lingerie and sex can go well together, I wasn’t sure how well received fashion history would be at a sex writers’ conference. Still, I knew that Molly knows her audience so my answer was a resounding yes!

I had to pitch a session like everyone else, so I needed to come up with an enticing blurb to a) get me on the schedule, and b) to ensure some of the conference delegates would choose my session over any others that are on at the same time. This is what I came up with:

Lori Smith – The surprising history of the bra
What links a whippet named Clytoris, the Miss America beauty pageant, a pair of jockstraps, and a mechanical bull? Oh yes, that’ll be the brassiere, my friend. Whether you’re a fiction writer looking for background details or simply a bra-wearer with an interest in this unique garment’s history, this session aims to reveal secrets about the bra’s colourful past that you never thought you needed to know.

Lori's 2018 Eroticon badgeI was pretty pleased with that and had great fun putting the slides together, doing extra little bits of research to help make the talk interesting. When the conference weekend came around, however, I was absolutely shattered. Being busy in the weeks leading up to the event meant that I hadn’t had enough sleep and I woke up on Saturday feeling like I might be coming down with a cold. Seeing as my talk was on the Sunday, I decided that extra time in bed was probably the best plan so that I was fresh and ready for my own session, and so I sadly had to miss Girl on the Net’s opening keynote and all the other sessions I’d highlighted on the schedule (including RM Girl on ‘Record keeping in a gender fluid world’, Kayla Lords on ‘How to make money from your blog without losing your soul, or your audience’, and Hannah Witton’s ‘Vlogging 101’).

Thankfully, doing this meant that I was raring to go when Sunday arrived and so I headed to the conference venue full of excitement and anticipation. Once I’d got my conference badge (yay for space to add your preferred pronouns, but boo to all the folk who didn’t see the need to fill theirs in), I hung up my coat and looked for Molly so that I could say hi and find out what was where. We spotted each other pretty quickly and she gave me an overview of the space, and made sure I got one of the goodie bags. The big open conference room we were standing in could be divided into three soundproofed rooms by moving the dividing walls, which was great for having social and breakout space that was easy to navigate. The toilets had been de-gendered – with signs to let you know whether they were stalls/urinals so you could select based on that if you wished – and the canteen area was easy to find. Despite missing the first day, I quickly felt settled.

Some of the brochures I collected at Eroticon 2018After a welcome to day 2 from Molly, the rooms were divided up ready for the first sessions Sadly, sex and relationships blogger Oloni was delayed getting to the venue so her session started late, but the discussions our group had about open relationships were interesting and so it ended up being a nice friendly start to the day. I really enjoyed the following session from Dr Jamie Lawson about becoming a queer anthropologist – a frank and fascinating discussion about his personal and academic journey – and his personal reflections gave me much to think about over lunch. The venue had the special food requests clearly marked, so I knew I was definitely wheat-free as there was a plate just for me, and I had a nice chat with Girl on the Net before heading into the corridor to meet some of the event’s sponsors.

Organising a conference in central London is an expensive business, and so the sponsors provide a valuable service at Eroticon because their attendance means that the tickets are far more affordable than they would otherwise be. As a blogger, chatting to them is a useful way to get introduced to products and services you may not have otherwise discovered, and it’s good for blog content and potential review items too! This year’s sponsors included [Links NSFW, obvs!] Doxy, Hot Octopuss, Sheets of San Francisco, Bijoux Indiscrets, and The Ruby Glow. Everyone was friendly and approachable without being overly pushy or in-your-face, which I liked. Basically, the sponsors were all people who completely understand the supportive and welcoming community that Eroticon is famous for. You can find a full list of sponsors on the Eroticon site.

After lunch, I sat in on some of the erotica readings (just, wow!), and attended a session on challenges currently facing the adult industry by Nina Saini, before getting ready for my own talk. I was worried that no one would attend – as I was scheduled alongside Meg-John Barker and Justin Hancock‘s session on how to give responsible sex advice, and Michael Knight’s blog tech tips – but by the time my session started, I had an eager crowd smiling back at me. Thankfully everyone seemed to enjoy it too, so thanks very much to all of you who came along! I ended the day in the same room, with Remittance Girl‘s amazing session on writing longer erotic fiction. I’d never really considered writing erotic fiction before, especially not novel length, but this hugely informative and engaging session made me rethink that!

On the way home I pondered what I enjoyed the most about the day and I realised that it’s spending time with the Eroticon community in person. They are such friendly people, who love sharing their knowledge and advice, and everyone was made to feel welcomed. Thanks so much to the Eroticon team (Molly, Michael, and GOTN) for expertly running a welcoming, informative and fun event! I’m already thinking about what I could speak about next year.

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